Beyond Metro Manila: The 4 Best Buy Cities For Property

It’s safe to say that living in Metro Manila is not the best. Traffic is awful, the MRT is overcrowded and sometimes goes off the rails, the pollution is unhealthy, and property is expensive as heck. “If you ask a resident of Metro Manila living beside the main thoroughfares, they will tell you that it’s really bad,” says Jess Nicdao, president of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in an interview with iMoney Philippines.

But there are even more serious reasons for people to consider moving out of Manila. According to Nicdao “there is a danger of catastrophe if Manila is hit by a typhoon or an earthquake. When Metro Manila stops, the whole country stops.”

The Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry advocates for businesses to look at the countryside and set up offices in these places. “Our advocacy right now is ‘decongest Metro Manila for our country’s sake’,” Nicdao says.

Yves Luethi, vice president of KMC MAG Group, a Philippine real estate brokerage company, agrees. “If Metro Manila remains this way, it would be more difficult to attract investors, encourage talented labor force to continue working in the city, and sustain the level of growth the Philippines needs to prosper.”

This shortage of space in Manila has led to the growth of “next wave” cities, which can become new business districts. With the increasing number of businesses and developers setting up shop in these cities, you should also consider properties in these up and coming cities and provinces.

We’ll show you four cities you should take a look at, because there’s more to the Philippines than Metro Manila (or even Cebu or Davao):

Porac, Pampanga



Pampanga’s economy is on the up and up. It may not be one of the biggest provinces, but it has several major developments already, with three SM malls, 3 Robinson’s malls, and one Ayala mall. For those looking to relocate out of Manila but don’t want to go too far, Pampanga is an attractive option.

Developers like Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) have seen the potential in Pampanga. ALI has prepared to invest P75 billion in the town of Porac to develop Alviera, an integrated mixed-use development which the company hopes will become “the growth center of Central Luzon.” This 1,125-hectare development will feature an industrial park, residential areas, and even universities, turning the area into a mixed-use community that will also serve as a commercial hub for the region.

Pampanga is conveniently located right in the middle of Central Luzon, and via NLEX and SCTEX, Metro Manila is just over an hour away from Porac. Pampanga also has an international airport in Clark (“with better runways and less congestion than Manila,” Nicdao says), so travel will be easy.

These new developments are still in their beginning stages, so seize this opportunity and buy property while prices are still low.

Price range for a house and lot (single home, 125 – 313 sqm): P3.1M – P5M*
*Based on Avida Settings Alviera prices

Legazpi City, Bicol

City of Legazpi
Photo: Barrera marquez / CC BY-SA 3.0

This center of the Bicol region not only features the picturesque Mayon Volcano, but a rapidly developing economy with a bustling BPO industry and large-scale infrastructure developments. It was also named as one of the most competitive cities in the Philippines by the Asian Institute of Management — an impressive feat considering that Supertyphoon Reming caused a lot of damage in Legazpi eight years ago.

“Our city ranks fifth as fast-rising city in the Philippines in terms of infrastructure and business development and in peace and order situation,” then-mayor Geraldine Rosal said in a 2013 interview.

And that growth has continued. Property developers are jumping on the Legazpi growth bandwagon, with SM Prime Holdings, Robinsons Group, and Ayala Corporation pouring in billions of pesos to put up malls and residential developments in the city, which will generate jobs and additional income for Legazpi.

So if you’re looking to get away from Metro Manila but still enjoy the benefits of a fast-growing city, Legazpi has a lot to offer at much lower prices. Its massive infrastructure development, business growth, and big influx of foreign and domestic tourists, according to current mayor Noel Rosal, make it the next investment hub in the country.

Price range for a house and lot: P1.7M (public OLX listing) – P7M (2-storey, 3 bedroom house from Camella Homes)*
*Based on OLX listings

Iloilo City, Iloilo


Photo: Berniemack Arellano Bernárdo Arelláno III / CC BY 3.0

Once second only to Manila in prominence, Iloilo was eclipsed by neighboring Cebu after the country’s independence. But over the last two decades, Iloilo has shown signs of an awakening, rebuilding roads, airports, and infrastructure, and now it is an attractive destination for businesses and potential homeowners alike.

“The economy in Iloilo is very vibrant right now … Iloilo has been like a sleeping city before. We are very lucky and blessed that some of the big names in the industry here in the Philippines came to Iloilo,” Felix Tiu, head of the Iloilo City Trade and Investment Board, told Rappler in November 2014. Tiu also noted that Iloilo’s economy has been increasing 10% every year since 2010, making it a huge draw for investors. It’s also #91 in Tholon’s Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations 2015.

Developers have taken notice of Iloilo City’s resurgence, with Megaworld building the Iloilo Business Park, a 72-hectare township designed to become the next central business district in Iloilo City. The Iloilo-AyalaLand TechnoHub is also being built, encouraging even more BPO investments in the city. The SM mall, which used to be in an isolated part of town, has turned that area into a commercial hotspot with its expansion.

Despite all these new buildings, the city retains an old-world charm, with its historic churches, heritage houses, and culture districts.

For would-be homeowners, several developments both in the city and just a few minutes outside are available, with affordable price ranges depending on the developer.

Price range for a house and lot (single home style, 30 – 110 sqm): P1.7M – P2.5M*
*Based on Avida Village Iloilo prices

Bacolod City, Negros Occidental

bacolod city

Home of the colorful MassKara festival, Bacolod is another up-and-coming city poised to become even bigger in the future. It’s now #86 in Tholon’s Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations 2015, up 7 places from 2014.

The country’s big developers are now in Bacolod, showing its potential for growth. Along with Iloilo City, Bacolod’s proximity to Cebu makes it an attractive location for BPO companies and foreign investments, according to Luethi.

Megaworld is investing P35 billion in the next 10 years to develop two townships in the city, which will generate around 250,000 jobs. Ayala Land is in the process of constructing houses in their North Point development, with some already available for turnover. They also held a groundbreaking ceremony for Amaia Steps Capitol Center just this March, which will feature a hotel, a residential condominium, and a shopping mall. SM group is also planning on building a Park Inn by Radisson next to the already existing SM mall there.

“Their presence speaks about quality and class. Once they are present in the city, we can say that our city is now made,” mayor Monico Puentevella said at the Amaia groundbreaking event.

Get in on Bacolod’s rapid growth by buying property before prices skyrocket.

Price range for a house and lot (bungalow pod, twin pod, carriage pod, single home styles; 25 – 75 sqm.): P798K – P1.25M*
*Based on Amaia Scapes North Point prices

Looking to buy property outside of Manila? Keep these things in mind!

  • Check out the nearby infrastructure. Knowing when and where roads and other transportation infrastructure will be built will be an asset as property values skyrocket once the roads are finished.
  • Look at developers’ projects, as this is the sign that a city is on the verge of being developed. “We believe that with the ongoing construction boom, all next-wave cities stand a chance at being the new place preferred by buyers,” says Angela Manese, Residential Division Manager of KMC MAG Group.
  • Opt for developments from top-tier developers. Ayala, Megaworld, and others tend to build integrated, mixed-use developments that allow for a work-live-play setup. Buying from a top-tier developer also ensures that the property is safe and accessible with the necessary infrastructure for power, water, and communication already built in.
  • Be careful when dealing with fly-by-night brokers. Before investing money in a property, make sure that the land is titled and that the paperwork checks out.

If you’re ready to move out of Manila, one of the above cities might be the perfect one for you. For less money, you’ll get more property, and also less hassle.

Want to take the property plunge? Find the best home loan with our comparison tool.

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